Disclosure: Links on Simply Shoeboxes may be affiliate partners or referrals.

Protecting Shoebox Items

 While we can't pack "breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers" in our shoeboxes, sometimes an item may be a little delicate.  I've ran into this before with say a plastic toy with some fine parts, or sunglasses that also have the risk of scratching.  As I tend to pack my boxes very full, sometimes there's a little pressure built up in the box and I worry about that damaging an odd item.  In the past I've often packed them right next to the soft stuffed animal as it's sure to have some give in it to protect them.  Another way I address the concern is wrapping the item in something soft, and/or putting it inside a tin.  Here's a couple of examples.  

How do you pack items that worry you in shoeboxes?

More Budget for Shoeboxes

 So, if like us, you enjoy packing shoeboxes and would like to increase how many items you have to pack, but the shoebox area of the budget only has so much to spend.  I try to share deals or moneymaking apps/sites every Friday on our Simply Shoeboxes Facebook page.  But today I'll share another option-using some of our gift budget.  We do this in two ways:

First, among ourselves sometimes the gifts we give for holidays or birthdays are actually shoebox items.  This may be a nicer version of an item we would often pack, for instance in the photo below, we often send plain combs, but will send these fun brushes instead.  Or it might be an additional item like the head bands.  This makes the gift fun, and practical!

Another option is if you have friends/family who have everything they need, but you still need/want to give them a gift, and they have a heart for children is to pack a box in their honor.  One way to make this personal is to pack the box with a theme related to them.  The amount spent toward that could just be shipping, could be a couple items to complete the theme, or could be the entire box's contents depending on the amount you have to spend on that person.  If you activate tracking labels you can even share where they went.  Then you can give theme a photo of the box with some text like: "This shoebox was packed for a 5-9 year old boy in Ukraine, Europe in your honor with a Carolina Blue color theme because of how much you like the Tar Heels."  With their permission, you could even include their photo and/or contact info.  Here's photos of a few boxes we packed "for" our pastors this year.

The "Tar Heel" one in the example above.

Superhero/Lego/games themed

A very girly little girl box.

Another option would be to invite them over to pack their own box, if you have your packing supplies set out to pack yourself-that way it'd be a a shared time as well!

2022 Dollar Tree Stuffed Animal Review

 Disclaimer: I was paid to write this post and it also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links-but I purchased the items myself and all opinions are my own..

We normally try to pick up our stuffed animals on clearance, but with the last two years containing less runs to stores, less income, and supply chain difficulties we haven’t gotten as many as we’d like.  So, we decided before Dollar Tree prices went up we’d order a few different kinds from Dollar Tree to jump-start our stock.  We weren't sure what to expect as we hadn’t been able to check these out in store and, while we’d been happy with Dollar Tree Stuffed animals in the past,  it’d been a while and quality can change.  I also thought I could then report back to all of you, so you could know if you wanted to order some for your boxes.  We were quite pleased with the three we got, and I’ll share a little about each one below.

First up, the Customizable Plush Bears (http://shrsl.com/3c93j)  These were a little smaller than we’d pictured, but while that doesn’t make it as much of a major “Wow” item it will fit into more boxes and is totally nice enough for a child’s main stuffed animal friend.  These would also be great for these crochet loveies with stuffed animal “heads” http://www.simplyshoeboxes.com/2019/03/diy-crochet-granny-square-lovey-and.html 

Second, the Fuzzy Plush Hedgehogs (http://shrsl.com/3c93l).  These have been available for a while, and we were actually hesitant to buy them as they sounded too small, but once we got them we were quite pleased with their size for shoeboxes, and boy are they cute!  Excited to pack them this year.  Last I looked they weren’t listed as available, but they’ve had them off and on for years, so I’d keep checking if you’re interested as they should come back in stock I’d think!

Finally we got Fuzzy Friends Colorful Animal Plushies which turned out to be very cute and soft!  And I like that there are four different animals for more variety!  When I went to get a link, I couldn’t find them listed anymore, so must not be available at the moment, but here’s a link to their general stuffed animal area on the website: http://shrsl.com/3c93r  there are other cute options, hopefully you can use the reviews above to find something that’ll work for your boxes, especially with Valentines and Easter animals coming in right now!

One thing we try to think about is would we give this to a child we knew personally, and yes, I think we would with all of these.  To see more views of this, check out this video:

A Very Special Shoebox

I got a chance to pack a very special shoebox last year.

In addition to being over shoeboxes at my church, our family is kind of over the ministry to our homebound members (if you're interested in that ministry, check out my YouTube Channel: Serving Seniors and Shut-ins).   Through that we've built relationships with some of the homebound.  My sister had texted one lady, Sue, in a nursing home a photo of me heading out to film a video about shoeboxes at my church.  Sue was touched and asked if she could give money towards the shoeboxes!  Totally a "Widow's Mite" indeed!  Since this was the height of Covid restrictions, we couldn't go and pick it up, she mailed it.  I "shopped" our stock to pack a shoebox with things I knew she'd like/I thought she'd pick: Minnie Mouse, glittery, a hat etc.  I took a photo to send it to her to let her know what she sent!  I love how God can use shoeboxes to build relationships and bless people on both sides of the box!

Shoeboxes Are a Go in 2020

 As 2020 has seemed such a crazy year, shoeboxes may have gone to the back burner of our minds, and when they pop to the front, some may even question if shoeboxes can still be distributed in a year like this?  Well the answer is: yes, they can!  Samaritian's Purse and Operation Christmas Child are working hard to make collection as safe as possible.  You can read their plans here:  https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/covid-19/.  They're also coordinating with their ministry partners in the distributing countries for safely getting shoeboxes to the kids.  I'm sure their health experts are helping them make these decisions, and they should be experts as they're working in multiple continents helping respond to the Covid crisis: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/our-ministry/global-covid-19-response/.   

So, they're working on their end, it's up to us to work on our end.  I'm sure packing parties will be looking different.  The OCC link above has ideas for making packing parties safer.  If you pack as an individual, that removes a few of the variables, but shopping may still be kinda tricky depending on your risk level, and the outbreak level in your area.  Thankfully we got a lot early this year, and were able to get most of the rest online or thru curbside pick-up.  If that doesn't work for you, remember there is an option to build a box online: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/buildonline/

Bird Themed Shoebox for 10-14 Year Old Girl Thru Operation Christmas Child

I really enjoyed birds when I was a girl in the 10-14 year old range-even played with the idea of going into the field of ornithology.  I still like birds, so this was fun box to put together.

It started with the Beanie Baby which I said looked like an albino cardinal-much to the amusement of my family.  Then I found the photo/gift box
When I do a theme box, what that means to me is while I stick to my normal list of things to include, I try to find versions of those items that fit the theme.  I may add an extra unique item or two, but on the whole it's the same list, just different types.  My basic list for those interested is:
  • Hygiene supplies (soap & casetoothbrush & case; washcloth; comb)
  • School supplies (lined paper, pens, pencils, sharpener, eraser, ruler, etc.)
  • Art supplies (crayons, watercolors, and/or colored pencils; plain paper and/or coloring book; stickers, etc.)
  • Ball
  • Stuffed Animal
  • Toy
  • Game
  • Something to wear
  • Whistle
  • Some sort of container (maybe a bag or tin)
  • And a family photo (not pictured above)

If you'd like a better look at what exact items I packed in this box, and how I fit it all in, check out this unboxing video I took of it:

For more ideas/fun boxes, check out other shoeboxes we packed for 10-14 year old girls or our themed boxes!

Disclosure: Links on Simply Shoeboxes may be affiliate partners or referrals.